Because zinc oxide (ZnO) nanomaterials are used in antifouling and antibacterial solutions, understanding their toxic effects on different aquatic organisms is essential. In the present study, we evaluated the toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles of 10 to 30 nm (ZnONPI) and 80 to 200 nm (ZnONPII), ZnO nanorods (width 80 nm, height 1.7 µm) attached to the support substrate (glass, ZnONRG) and not attached (ZnONRS), as well as Zn2+ ions at concentrations ranging from 0.5 to 100 mg/L. Toxicity was evaluated using the microalga Dunaliella salina, the brine shrimp Artemia salina, and the marine bacterium Bacillus cereus. The highest toxicity was observed for ZnONPs (median lethal concentration [LC50] ~15 mg/L) and Zn2+ ions (LC50 ~13 mg/L), whereas the lowest toxicity found for ZnO nanorods (ZnONRG LC50 ~60 mg/L; ZnONRS LC50 ~42 mg/L). The presence of the support substrate in case of ZnO nanorods reduced the associated toxicity to aquatic organisms. Smaller ZnONPs resulted in the highest Zn2+ ion dissolution among tested nanostructures. Different aquatic organisms responded differently to ZnO nanomaterials, with D. salina and B. cereus being more sensitive than A. salina. Toxicity of nanostructures increased with an increase of the dose and the time of exposure. Supported ZnO nanorods can be used as a low-toxicity alternative for future antimicrobial and antifouling applications. Environ Toxicol Chem 2020;39:1343–1354.
- Aquatic organisms
- Zinc oxide
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis